Diversity is strength. Yet discrimination persists in its various forms throughout Europe. Today’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a moment to pause and reflect on the layers of injustice faced by marginalised communities worldwide and how we can fight for racial justice.

From women and the LGBTQIA+ community to different racialized groups, the struggle for equality remains vital. As Isil Gachet from ECRI (a human rights monitoring body engaged in the fight against racism and discrimination)  pointed out, racial discrimination shows up in many different way: from everyday experiences at work and school to violations of human rights, racist rhetoric against people on the move and political hate speech. While the extent of these trends may vary from one country to another, their magnitude warrants concern. 

Understanding the range of discrimination requires an acknowledgement of its intersectionality, a lens through which we can better understand the complex web of discrimination that people navigate. People often challenge combined forms of discrimination based on compound factors such as gender, race, and sexual orientation. For instance, women of colour experience a dual burden of racial and gender-based prejudices. According to a comprehensive report by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), racialized women across Europe face staggering rates of unemployment, experiencing joblessness at much higher rates than their white counterparts. Similarly, LGBTQIA+ people who are part of racial minorities face a unique mix of discrimination that intersects across multiple axes of their identity. Intersectionality emphasises the need to adopt an inclusive approach to combating discrimination.

Racial discrimination persists as a deeply rooted societal issue, perpetuating inequality and injustice across the globe. People of colour encounter systemic racism in various forms, ranging from racial profiling and unequal access to employment and housing to instances of police brutality. In this line, the ENAR report highlights disproportionately high rates of police violence and incarceration experienced by racialized communities in Europe, accentuating the systemic nature of racial discrimination. These problems have intensified as far-right parties assume government or influential political roles in several European countries and use their platforms to spout hate speech and pitch plans to remigrate people, as in the Netherlands. This shift dangerously exacerbates violence and far-right impunity.

Members of the LGBTQIA+ community confront discrimination and violence on account of their sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBTQIA+ people of colour in Europe are more likely to experience discrimination in housing, healthcare, and education. Transgender people, in particular, face higher levels of discrimination, often being denied basic rights and access to healthcare. 

Women continue to confront systemic barriers entrenched within patriarchal structures, e.g. racialized women report lower employment rates than minority men, perpetuating gender discrimination across various facets of life. Furthermore, gender-based violence remains a prevalent issue which is why The Left demanded and won key measures in the historic European directive on gender-based violence, the first EU-wide rules to protect women against this scourge. 

In addition to these challenges, we must also address the plight of migrant workers, who often find themselves exploited and marginalised in the labour market. Facing barriers to entering the job market and precarious situations with long hours, low wages, and limited job security, workers from racialized backgrounds are extra vulnerable to exploitation and abuse from greedy employers. To tackle the problem, The Left fought hard for an EU due diligence directive which would allow victims to file complaints against these companies. Europe still has a long way to go, but these new rules are an important step towards ending corporate impunity.   

While the EU Race Equality Directive has helped to create institutions that work on identifying racial discrimination across Europe and implement measures to address these problems, funding remains a problem. Fighting discrimination demands comprehensive action; dismantling patriarchal norms; fostering cultural acceptance to combat LGBTQIA+ discrimination; amplifying marginalised voices; and ensuring the rights and dignity of all workers. Dignity, equality, and solidarity are the core principles of The Left in this battle, and we will continue to fiercely and proudly defend and represent these values so essential to creating a more equal and inclusive Europe where everyone is empowered and respected.

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